Pierce Pettis—Father’s Son

2019, Compass Records


This is Pierce Pettis’s first studio album in almost a decade. The album opens with “Wouldn’t Change It For the World,” an autobiographic look at the life of a songwriter and troubadour. He covers similar ground with Jesse Winchester’s “A Showman’s Life.” One could read some of the same theme into “Very Same Moon,” a song he sings with (and possibly too) his daughter, who last sang with him at the age of nine on 2009’s Everything Matters. In an interview for Music Matters Review back in 2001, Pettis said of his songwriting, “Sometimes I feel like an idiot savant. I accidentally come across things that everybody knows. I have long since come to the conclusion that I have nothing to teach anybody, but the best I can do is to try to remind people of the things they already know.” [Click here for full interview.] He expresses this even more succinctly in “The Adventures of Me (and this Old Guitar), “So I just breathe in all the details/ And sometimes exhale a song.”

With his quiet vocal style and vibrato, his best songs are subtle, grounded in profound truth. “Your Father’s Son” is simple and hauntingly effective, letting us fill in the particulars of our own relationship with our fathers. Over the years Pettis has written songs that you will find yourself needing to hear at a significant events in your life. Set at a graveside, “More” is such a song. “This is not the hardest part of all/ This is just a seed that had to fall.” “Mr. Zeidman,” a memorial to a small town’s “one and only Jew,” tells his story through the eyes of people who did not know him well, yet reveals his essence between the lines. It is a masterpiece, enhanced by Andrea Zonn’s beautiful string arrangement. Pettis covers “Look Over Your Shoulder,” a beautiful song by his late friend, Mark Heard. The last track “Instrument” is a songwriter’s prayer, “So if anyone should pay me any mind/ Let them catch a little glimpse of you.” As one would expect from an artist who has devoted his life to his craft, you will find these songs in your head enriching your spirit and ready to turn to fully when you need them. —Michael Devlin

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